Brian McCann strapped on his shin guards for the final time this season on Oct. 1 as the Yankees put the finishing touches on a 7-3 victory over the Orioles, catching the ninth inning after coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter.
It remains to be seen whether that was McCann's final game in pinstripes or a sign of things to come in 2017. As the 32-year-old prepared to head home for the offseason, he acknowledged that Gary Sanchez's amazing rookie season would likely create a winter of uncertainty for him.
"Listen, Gary is the starting catcher here," McCann said. "He's going to be that for a long, long time. I just have to kind of see where my role fits in, see where everything fits. I'm sure there will be open communication as far as what's going to happen and moving forward."
General manager Brian Cashman recently said that Sanchez is "obviously" the Yankees' starting catcher going into 2017, but that there could be a scenario where both Sanchez and McCann play important roles for the club.
"We have a right-handed-power-hitting catcher in Gary, and we have a left-handed-power-hitting catcher in McCann," Cashman said. "That's a valuable combination to have, both hitting 20 home runs on the same roster. It's extremely impressive, both being excellent defenders, and certainly strong leaders of the pitching staff."
McCann has played out three seasons of a five-year, $85 million contract signed prior to the 2014 campaign, and he is owed $17 million through '18. He batted .242 with 20 homers and 58 RBIs in 130 games in '16, making 86 starts at catcher and 28 as a designated hitter.
"I just couldn't get anything going swinging the bat," McCann said. "I felt like I fouled off a ton of pitches. I just missed my pitch this year, it seemed like, more times than not."
McCann's contract includes a $15 million team option for '19 that would vest if he totals 1,000 plate appearances over the next two seasons, catches 90 games in '18 and is not on the disabled list at the end of that season.
Despite that security, McCann said that he couldn't know for sure if he was walking out of Yankee Stadium for the last time this month.
"I hope I'm back," McCann said. "I'm not sure how it's all going to play out, but the future is extremely bright here, and we'll see how it goes."
Perhaps more importantly for this offseason, McCann's deal includes a full no-trade clause, which could present a stumbling block for any interested parties -- the Braves are said to be one, having made overtures concerning their former catcher as recently as the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Cashman said that he has not approached McCann to see if he would waive his no-trade clause, but that could change depending on where the Hot Stove takes the Yankees.
"I think we're lucky to still have Mac on the roster," Cashman said. "Whether that remains to be seen, first and foremost, depends on how the trade discussions potentially develop, and then Mac will have the final say as he earned in his contract."
If that call does ever come, McCann isn't sure what he'd say.
"There's a lot of variables that go into a decision, so we'll see how the winter plays out, but again, this place is special," McCann said.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.